We, as social animals, do not typically enjoy saying goodbye. I have never met anyone who was excited to say goodbye to someone they love. What makes this inevitable event more bearable is the fact that we will be able to see them again. What happens though, when this promise of reunion is taken away? A religious person never truly experiences the feeling of losing someone with no hope of ever seeing them again, but for an atheist, losing someone to death is a very final thing.
Since embracing my atheism, letting go of the delusion that my deceased loved ones are: “watching over me” or are “up in heaven talking to Jesus” has been the biggest struggle. It is a reality, however, that I was ok to accept in theory. Recently though, my willingness to accept a harsh reality over a kinder lie has been put to the test.
On May 13th, 2015, my dad died due to lung cancer. He had only been diagnosed about 3 months earlier, so it happened pretty quickly. My relationship with my father was not your typical father-daughter relationship, I was raised by my grandparents and did not even know who my father was until I was 13. At that time, we began writing letters. I still have every letter that he ever sent me. When we were able, we spent quite a bit of time together. Being around him when he was sober, was a very enjoyable experience. For a while though, I did not see him, he was addicted to drugs and alcohol and I refused to bear witness to him stumbling all over himself. After he was diagnosed, I had a choice to make. I could have stayed away and then losing him would have been much easier. It still would have hurt, but not near as severely as it does now. I decided that I wanted to reestablish our relationship. I wanted to use the time that was left to get a better understanding of who exactly my father was underneath the drugs and addiction. Some (including myself) may think that is was a stupid thing to do. In a way, it was setting myself up for a fall. I felt that it was the right thing for me to do though. Continue reading “Saying Goodbye Instead of See You Later”
“Life is a short warm moment. Death is a long cold rest.” These are lyrics from a favorite Pink Floyd song of mine called “Free Four” from the album Obscured by Clouds. OBC was the album before Dark Side of The Moon and provided the fertile ground that would blossom into one of the best-selling recordings of all time. Many of Roger Water’s lyrics focused on death. “Free Four” is about what one thinks about on their deathbed. “You shuffle in gloom of the sick room…and talk to yourself as you die.”
Pretty profound stuff. However, I’m not writing an article about Pink Floyd. I just wanted to point out a portion of the first line that I quoted. …”Death is a long cold rest.” Is that what death really is? A dirt nap, so to speak?
Without attempting (poorly) to give a history lesson, I think we all know that mankind has always had a fascination with death. It is the Great Mystery, isn’t it? Look at the incredible detail found in the burial tombs of the ancient Egyptian pharaohs. One ancient Asian emperor had an entire terracotta army buried with him to command in the afterlife. Look it up, it’ll blow your mind.
There are many examples throughout history of man trying to explain the unexplainable. As we moved through the ages and learned some things along the way, the answers to these mysteries revealed themselves. The earth is flat, Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox created the Grand Canyon…you know, stuff like that. Those that believed the myths of their point in time went kicking and screaming when science, reason, or whatever, provided the explanation that solved the mystery. Look what is happening right now in our lifetime with the evolution versus creationism debate. Kicking and screaming. Continue reading “The Afterlife”
“That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence.” -Christopher Hitchens – God Is Not Great
One of the last bastions of faith is a proposition known as Pascal’s Wager. Presented by the philosopher Blaise Pascal and it goes like this.
“God is, or He is not”
A Game is being played… where heads or tails will turn up.
According to reason, you can defend neither of the propositions.
You must wager (it is not optional).
Let us weigh the gain and the loss in wagering that God is. Let us estimate these two chances. If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing.
Wager, then, without hesitation that He is. (…) There is here an infinity of an infinitely happy life to gain, a chance of gain against a finite number of chances of loss, and what you stake is finite. And so our proposition is of infinite force, when there is the finite to stake in a game where there are equal risks of gain and of loss, and the infinite to gain.
America’s favorite grifter Joshua Feuerstein posted this article from Christian Today on his facebook page recently; and while I was strongly inclined to overlook it just like all of the other presuppositional hogwash that so frequently finds its way into my Facebook news feed I thought the author of the article made one very important point. “Some Questions Atheist Cannot Truly and Honestly REALLY Answer! (sic) Which leads to some interesting conclusions…”
The fastest growing religious orientation is “none, thanks” and we as atheist activists or armchair philosophers ought to be able to answer these questions. However, so often now I see the same angst ridden talking points that I used against the JUST club kids in 7th grade: “Your God is a fairy tale.” “Do you still believe in Santa Claus?” “You’re so stupid for believing in a magical skydaddy who cares about who wins football games and where your keys are.” et cetera… I say it’s time we move past such foolish talking points and move towards more thoughtful and purposeful dialogue and in that spirit I will answer Mr. Feuerstein’s questions while listening to Limp Bizkit’s album Chocolate Starfish and the Hotdog Flavored Water (because Joshua Feuerstein is the Fred Durst of presuppositional apologetics.)
Stop for a moment, close your eyes, and picture someone you love in flames. Picture their skin bubbling and bursting through waves of intense heat, picture it blackening and shrinking as they fall to their knees, their screams gurgling up from scorched lungs through their blistered throat, bursting from their charred lips to pierce the fetid air.
Now, imagine yourself picking fresh fruit in an abundant field, a joyous smile upon your face, cool grass beneath your feet, the air thick with floral scents and laughter. Sweet nectar clinging to your lips, you stop to run your fingers through the mane of a majestic lion before setting upon the golden path to your personal mansion, the lilting sounds of abundant water and generous praise wafting on the gentle breeze.
Weary we rest, the tower rebuilt, and a universal scientific language desperately tries to coalesce the minds of all who would listen; “…and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.” From the tower floors we search, be it jets cascading the gentle cloudy sky, to satellites drifting through the silent shadows of the moon, from behind the lens of the Hubble Space Telescope searching the oldest light in the universe, and through distant radio transmissions of the space craft Voyager carrying with it a golden record of our short existence thus far in the cosmos.
In a book of fear: fear of a jealous lord god, fear of capricious divine power, and fear of eternal consequence for the simple crime of thought, we have a case quite startling. Does god fear humanity, it’s own creation? Does god really have the power to will the universe into existence, yet tremble when human kind reaches for the clouds? Does god fail to posses knowledge that even though humanity could reach the earthly sky and beyond, they would never find him? How trivial, the impulse to destroy and scatter, I declare this “creator of worlds.” Continue reading “We Sit Atop the Tower Babel, Fearless and Alone.”